In a letter sent to leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives (pdf), the group urged them to continue making improvements to the antitrust laws via a range of six bills that passed the House Judiciary Committee in June.
These include the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, the American Choice and Innovation Online Act, the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (“ACCESS”) Act, the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, and the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act.
Four of the bills directly address Big Tech’s platform powers while two others empower enforcers.
The attorneys general also recommended the “addition of provisions that would further protect consumers from unlawful and irresponsible mergers and business practices, and to facilitate competition and innovation.”
“As state attorneys general, we are very supportive of Congress’ efforts to modernize federal antitrust laws. As the antitrust bills move forward from the House Committee on the Judiciary for consideration by the full House of Representatives and, eventually, the Senate, we encourage Congress to continue making improvements to these important measures,” the attorneys general wrote.
“These include provisions to further enhance consumer protections from unlawful and irresponsible mergers and business practices as well as necessary improvements to ensure that competition and innovation are not stifled.”
In addition, the group urged Congress to include a provision in the legislation that confirms that the states are “sovereigns that stand on equal footing with federal enforcers under federal antitrust law, including with regard to the timing of challenging anticompetitive mergers and other practices.”
The group noted that it would happily discussions with Congress where it can offer suggestions to address the “critical considerations” and improve any of the proposed laws.
The letter was signed by Attorneys General Phil Weiser of Colorado, Douglas Peterson of Nebraska, Letitia James of New York, and Herbert H. Slatery III of Tennessee. They were joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The full House has not voted on the full package of antitrust measures, but if they are signed into law they would be the largest expansion of U.S. antitrust powers in generations.
However, 12 former top U.S. national security officials, including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, have urged Congress to hold off on the bills, arguing that imposing severe restrictions solely on U.S. giants could give China the edge in gaining dominance in the tech landscape, Axios reported.